We spent an unforgettable day on the Bookamer Family Farm in Meadville. The Bookamer Family has lived on and farmed the same hill for generations. If you've ever read Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma, this farm reminded me so much of the Polyface farm he visited. The chickens act as pest control and provide fertilizer, in addition to being a source of meat and eggs. Crops are planted in harmony to naturally avoid pests. Cows graze on the pastures like cows should do, etc. The Bookamers have six kids, ranging in age from 23 to 11, and all have been home-schooled (or farm-schooled as mom Linda says). Everything they eat comes from their land, with the exception of flour and sugar bought in bulk each month.
We started our day by visiting the chickens. The egg above was so fresh it was still warm. The chicken below is one of the meat chickens. This one is only 6 weeks and is already huge. Notice how big her legs are to support her weight. The chickens are in moveable enclosures that rotate around the property every two days.
After the chickens, we visited the animals in the barn. Usually they'd be out enjoying the pastures, but because of the hot weather they were in the barn when we visited. The alpacas aren't particularly fond of being petted by hands, but enjoy giving kisses and getting a good sniff of your face.
Amy enjoying an Alpaca kiss from Willie
The Bookamers have six dairy cows and sell raw milk directly from their farm for only $2.50 a gallon (bring your own container). These are definitely happy cows.
Icy the calf was born just three days ago. Baby calves wrinkle their noses with each breath.
After learning about all of the animals we enjoyed the most delicious lunch. Beef, pork, sausage patties (homemade) and barbecued chicken cook on an open fire below (all from their own cows, pigs and chickens).
Everything we ate, down the butter made from milk from their cows, was from the farm. In addition to the burgers, chicken and sausage, we had homemade bread, homemade pickles, onions, potato salad, baked beans, lemonade and peach iced tea. Everything was absolutely delicious.
We ate on red checked table clothes under a tented cover, right next to the fields where the food was grown.
As if we didn't eat enough for lunch, we had apple pie, homemade ice cream and cookies. You guessed it - apples grown from their trees and ice cream made from milk from their cows.
Vern, the cutest bunny ever, made an appearance after lunch. He's an angora-lion head cross, and I think we all want one now.
Amanda petting Vern
Each of the Bookamer children specialize in something related to the farm. Bill, the eldest, sells the raw milk and is also a fiber specialist. Here she is showing us how she turns alpaca hair into yarn.
We took a hay ride around the pastures.
Our kids on the hay ride
Aunt Irie, Aunt Amy and my mom
The forest is an important part of the farm and provides the fuel. Thomas, the oldest boy, has apprenticed to be a sawyer. He took us on a ride through the forest, up and down ravines we didn't know were possible to climb in a vehicle. This was no ordinary vehicle, however. The Polaris has tracks instead of wheels and can go over anything.
You can't tell by this picture how steep the hill us we're about to go down.
Jess, the youngest Bookamer, rode in the back with John, Will and Kate.
Finally, horseback riding. I don't think we could have possibly fit more into one day!